Deadline reports that Netflix has acquired the global rights to Mowgli from Warner Bros. for an undisclosed price, removing it from its planned release date of October 19. Netflix will release the movie on its streaming service sometime in 2019, and plans to accompany that launch with some sort of theatrical release as well. However, no details about that release have been provided.
This is one of the biggest acquisitions for Netflix since it started producing original films, and it's pretty late in the game for a studio like Warner Bros. to sell off such an expensive production. Not only was the movie slated for an October release, but a full trailer had already been released online, and more footage was shown to exhibitors at CinemaCon back in April.
Mowgli was originally set to hit theaters not long after Disney's live-action Jungle Book in 2016. However, WB's take on the classic Rudyard Kipling novel was delayed and the Disney film went on to gross $966 million worldwide. When the trailer for Mowgli was released, it was clear that WB was going for a much darker, grittier take on the source material.
"I'm really excited about Netflix for Mowgli," Serkis told Deadline. "Now, we avoid comparisons to the other movie and it's a relief not to have the pressure. I've seen the 3D version, and it's exceptional, a different view from the 2D version, really lush and with great depth, and there will be some kind of theatrical component for that. What excites me most is the forward thinking at Netflix in how to present this, and the message of the movie. They understand this is a darker telling that doesn't fit it into a four quadrant slot. It's really not meant for young kids, though I think it's possible that 10 or above can watch it. It was always meant to be PG-13, and this allows us to go deeper, with darker themes, to be scary and frightening in moments. The violence between animals is not gratuitous, but it's definitely there. This way of going allows us to get the film out without compromise."
Serkis, best-known for his motion-capture work in franchises like Lord of the Rings and Planet of the Apes, not only directed the upcoming film, but also stars as the lovable Baloo the bear. The rest of the all-star voice cast includes Benedict Cumberbatch, Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, and Naomie Harris. Mowgli also features live-action performances from Rohan Chand, Matthew Rhys, and Freida Pinto.
Are you excited to see Mowgli make its debut on Netflix? Let us know in the comments!